Everyone has their comfort food, the food that they turn to when it’s been a bad day and everything seems to have gone wrong. Cheese cake is the food that I turn to when I have had a miserable day. I find it relaxing to make and the smell that it produces when it’s baking is almost enough to chase some of the blues away.
My favourite type of cheese cake is chocolate and orange which, as my idol, Ottolenghi, once said “Chocolate and orange are a classic combination”. The cheese cake here draws inspiration from his style of cooking. Orange blossom water has been added to the mixture to give it that light and sweet taste of oranges. I find that it adds more flavour than just adding orange juice and zest to the mix. The pomegranate seeds used to decorate the cheese cake are also inspired by Ottolenghi. The pomegranate seeds give the cake a splash of vibrant colour on its pale surface, look like jewels and add a wonderful crunch as well. The thick chocolate base is a wonderful contrast to the light and fluffy orange cheese cake and is slightly bitter to play off the sweetness of the orange.
Time: 3 hours
Zest from an orange
175g chilled butter
50g melted butter
250g plain flour
3 tbsp coco powder
Pinch of salt
Zest of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 oranges (about 150ml)
2 tbsp flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla pod
2 tsp orange blossom water
Pomegranate seeds for decoration (optional)
- Line a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin with grease proof paper. Heat oven to 160C.
- Place the chilled butter, flour, coco powder, orange zest and sugar into a bowl and rub together until it looks like bread crumbs. Then add the melted butter and mix well.
- Put the mixture into the cake tin and flatten out so that the whole base is covered.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove and cool.
- Grate the zest of two oranges and remove juice. Sieve the juice to remove any seeds and pulp.
- Put the quark, mascarpone, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, orange zest, flour and orange blossom water into a big bowl and whisk until smooth.
- Split the vanilla pod in half and using the back of a knife scrape along the inside of the pod to remove the seeds. Add them to the cheese mixture along with the orange juice. TIP: avoid using the sharp edge of the knife will scrape up bitter pith from the inside of the vanilla pod which, will affect the taste of the cake.
- Heat the oven to 130C fan.
- Pour the cheese mixture over the cooled chocolate base and place in the oven. Cook for 1 ½ hours.
- When finished, leave in the oven with the door open for 1 hour and then leave to completely cool and set in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Enjoy the cake.